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Poem: Guided Tour

 

Memorize a few loose-leaf pages,
note important dates with precision. Mention
the children by name and explain the heritage
of the highboy in the parlor—cherry, late 18th century,
brass fixtures replacements, not original.
Demonstrate the peculiar habits
of instruments placed with emphasis
around the house: pretend to fill
the tin-top foot warmers with hot coals,
mimic the dipping of candle wicks
in and out of their molds, smile coyly
as you tighten the rope mattress
with the antique bed key the way
someone would have two hundred years ago.

At times you recognize a twinge
of inaccuracy in the script, something
tinkering toward futility escaping
in your voice. And for a few minutes
as you watch visitors wave back
on their way to the car you wonder
if a pleasant tone and a few lucky cobwebs
are enough to recapture the history of a farmhouse
or of inhabitants who never seem to leave
enough behind. The past seems repetitive

until a blind man who need help placing
his feet up stone steps, bends into a prayer pose
and touches the floor’s pine planks
with both hands. Through the kitchen
and side bedrooms, past looms and the old
rocking horse, he feels his way and measures
distances with small steps. He knows
without being told that we’ve returned
to the front entrance, “where we started.”

Image Credits: Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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